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Getting your kids into science and the role of class in science


Communicating science
Eugene Garfield Scientist
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I was just reading, starting to read an article about, have you heard about, it’s in the latest issue of The Scientist, which probably is the largest issue of The Scientist ever published. It’s happened, but... they’re talking about the... communicating science to the public and what succeeds and what doesn’t succeed. And talking about framing science and referring, do you know about some Nobel prize winning work by [Kahneman and] Tversky? Yeah, yeah I don’t know anything about that.

[Q] The economist or statistician?

And apparently, if you don’t, you’ve got to frame the issue in terms of the various contexts of the person’s interest, you know. If you talk in the abstract terms, science doesn’t appeal. Science has to compete with too many other competitive media that people are interested in. That’s why they’re not interested in science, because it’s not, not, I’d say, as much fun, as other things might be, you know. So, getting across scientific messages is not an easy thing to do because it takes a little effort to understand science. And, on the other hand, if you can demonstrate economic impact, in a, in a sense, I almost, I didn’t even know that this is, this stuff I’ve been trying to do about demonstrating the economic impact of biomedical research is, is what they’re talking about framing people’s interest in science. Maybe that’s part of the problem with selling information systems, too; you’ve got to demonstrate the context in which it's helpful. And I don’t know whether there’s a, a message there for getting people interested in the field of information, so when you asked me, how did I get interested in information – I don’t know what happened. But as far as making it interesting for the newer generations, then maybe all these quiz shows do it for us. I don’t know. I don’t know, whether you’re good at 20 Questions, or Trivia or Trivial Pursuits, or other things. I don’t know whether that gets people interested in the information at all, because the people that correct one another are always looking for ways to interest people and getting into the field. We were talking about that down in Tennessee. I don’t know what I can tell them. How do you get people interested in, in getting into this field? They’re competing with other things.

Eugene Garfield (1925-2017) was an American scientist and publisher. In 1960 Garfield set up the Institute for Scientific Information which produced, among many other things, the Science Citation Index and fulfilled his dream of a multidisciplinary citation index. The impact of this is incalculable: without Garfield’s pioneering work, the field of scientometrics would have a very different landscape, and the study of scholarly communication would be considerably poorer.

Listeners: Henry Small

Henry Small is currently serving part-time as a research scientist at Thomson Reuters. He was formerly the director of research services and chief scientist. He received a joint PhD in chemistry and the history of science from the University of Wisconsin. He began his career as a historian of science at the American Institute of Physics' Center for History and Philosophy of Physics where he served as interim director until joining ISI (now Thomson Reuters) in 1972. He has published over 100 papers and book chapters on topics in citation analysis and the mapping of science. Dr Small is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an Honorary Fellow of the National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services, and past president of the International Society for Scientometrics and Infometrics. His current research interests include the use of co-citation contexts to understand the nature of inter-disciplinary versus intra-disciplinary science as revealed by science mapping.

Duration: 2 minutes, 55 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2007

Date story went live: 23 June 2009